Sometimes, I wonder…okay, most of the time

This week’s adventure in teaching and learning indeed was an adventure.  From a class discussion in which we ran out of time (because one student wanted the opportunity to share his story as the son of an immigrant) to the first student teaching observations to library instruction for the American Revolution class (in which they were shown how to use a microcard reader) to explaining the assignment the students in History of Pennsylvania should complete while I am out of town, it definitely was different this week.

First, I shall address the student teachers.  This week, I observed the Spanish student teacher and one of the social studies student teachers.  Both of them did quite well and have developed a nice rapport with their students.  The Spanish student teacher effectively communicated with the students, using both English and Spanish when teaching the lesson (in a sense reinforcing the Spanish by saying phrases and instructions in English first, then Spanish).  The social studies student teacher taught about Washington crossing the Delaware; he used visual images to show different interpretations of what the troops experienced during the crossing.  The main issue he had was with proofreading, as there were several spelling and grammatical errors in his lesson plan and on the PowerPoint presentation, but it wasn’t anything that could not be fixed easily.

The American Revolution class had library instruction this semester mainly because they will be using microcards from the Evans collection (Early American Imprints/Evans American Bibliography) when writing their research papers.  They also learned about other print and online primary sources they can use for their assignments, in addition to microfilm and microfiche (and learned out to save images displayed on a microfilm reader as a .pdf file).  Their research paper proposals are due next Friday (February 24), and it will be interesting to see how many are able to fulfill the requirements and will not have to be re-done (the requirements include two primary sources—one from the Evans collection, two academic journal articles, two books, and a minimum of ten sources, plus a topic description and brief outline).  The main challenge is (a) finding appropriate sources and (b) selecting a topic that isn’t too broad for a 15 page paper.

I didn’t, however, have the same type of instruction in the History of Pennsylvania class, but maybe I should have.  So far, four students have asked for help in choosing topics (and are not happy when I tell them I will not pick their topic or identify sources for them).  Their proposal and annotated bibliography is due next Thursday (February 23), and they are already starting to whine that I haven’t given them enough time (the assignment was made the first day of class, January 24).  I can hardly wait until they realize that they must submit completed 15 page rough drafts (with citations) by March 29 or they will fail the course.  Of course, I’m already probably considered evil incarnate because I don’t allow them to use websites or encyclopedias (especially Wikipedia) as sources for their research papers, and I will not allow them to write on topics on which a book has already been written (mainly because I really don’t enjoy reading lots of papers on the Battle of Gettysburg, Benjamin Franklin, the Amish of Lancaster County, etc.).  Plus, ever since the one student who DID write about the Amish stated that we should honk and wave every time we see a horse and buggy to show our appreciation…I’m just not ready to deal with that again (incidentally, I did write “you will spook the horses if you do that” in the margin).

Otherwise, everything is plodding along.  This past Friday farmers revolted in HST 2202 and colonists continued to revolt in HST 3303…and, of course, safety concerns prevented me from re-enacting the pitchforks and torches scene from Young Frankenstein as a way to show how the farmers (and the colonists) expressed their discontent.  This coming week I’m on the road again, as I get to observe the other two social studies student teachers on Wednesday and Thursday and will spend Tuesday at Bloomsburg University as an outside reviewer for their History Program Review (which is why students in the Pennsylvania History class have been assigned the Historic Site/Historical Marker activity, as it is expected that the students continue to learn in my absence).   The U.S. History since 1877 class will focus on diplomatic activity (including a documentary on Queen Liliuokalani), while the Pennsylvania history class will have a discussion of John Moretta’s biography of William Penn (and on their first exam they will be expected to compare Moretta’s portrayal of Penn with that in The Courageous Mr. Penn).  In the American Revolution class, we’re moving along with the events of the 1770s, and on Friday we’ll be dumping tea into Boston harbor (again, budget cuts prevent us from doing an actual reenactment).

This week’s photo loosely relates to economic causes of the American Revolution…from the New England Pirate Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Window display at the New England Pirate Museum. Obviously I need to work on taking photos of display cases and not including myself in the photo.


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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